Army Quartermaster Museum -
Fort Lee, Virginia
The Office of The Quartermaster General, as staff agency of the Army
Service Forces, organized a Food Service Program which went into effect on 31
July, 1943. Since that time tremendous strides have been made in food service.
Soldiers today are much better fed. Waste has been reduced at least fifty per
cent. Hundreds of progressive ideas have been put into effect and have saved
millions of dollars. How was this done? Its
actual accomplishment rests upon constant attention to training and supervision.
Trained, qualified personnel, supplemented by supervisory assistance, is the
heart of the program. Capable officer and non-commissioned-officer technicians
from the Office of The Quartermaster General; from the offices of the Directors
of Food Service in Service Commands; from the many Army-operated schools for
bakers and cooks, and leading civilians in the food industry-men with years of
food experience, who have been appointed as civilian consultants to the
Secretary of War-have done much to make food service a vital force.
Maintaining high standards of food service in Army messes is their
The Food Service Program is not a generalization. It is hard work backed
by years of experience.
In order to get the program in operation, the Food Service Branch,
Subsistence Division, OQMG, was organized. This branch, in turn, was subdivided
into three sections: Bakery, Schools for Bakers and Cooks, and Mess Supervision.
Recently, Refrigeration and Mess Equipment Sections have been added.
Mess Supervision Section provides an "escort service" for food
from the time it leaves the commissary to the time it is prepared and ready for
consumption by the soldier. It has
handled specific perplexing problems of different types of installations.
Mention of a few of these will suggest the scope of the activities in which mess
supervision is involved.
Early last year heavy troop movements through staging areas and ports of
embarkation seriously taxed the feeding facilities of these installations.
Considerable difficulty was being experienced in feeding large groups of
soldiers in mammoth cafeteria-type messes. At the request of the Chief of
Transportation, Mess Supervision officers made a clinical study of feeding at
several of the ports. As a result of that study a standard pattern of operation
was adopted. Central meat cutting plants, central pastry shops, central sandwich
shops, and central warehousing facilities were installed, and relieved the
burden at each of the individual messes. Today,
at major staging areas, feeding standards can be rated with the best in the
Food service at hospitals must be the finest possible. Sick and injured
soldiers deserve only the best. Messing problems in these establishments, of
necessity, are numerous. An
exhaustive study of these problems resulted in a manual of operation, prepared
for the Surgeon Generalís Office and designed to assist in the improvement of
Mess operations observed in twenty-four prisoner-of-war camps provided
the Food Service Branch with the material which formed the basis for a
prisoner-of-war mess manual, published by the Provost Marshal General. Prisoners
are not being pampered in regard to food. Their ration has been adjusted to take
into consideration their national eating habits, and scarce or rationed foods
have been reduced to a minimum in PW menus.
Elimination of waste and conservation of food is a must in these camps.
The Army has also experienced feeding problem in defense plants, supply
depots, arsenals, and holding and reconsignment points. These are all classed as
Army installations, even though the actual feeding operations may be conducted
by civilians for civilians. Again,
searching and detailed studies were made to perfect high standards of food
The War Shipping Administration, on learning of the success of the Army
Food Service Program, has requested and received help in improving the messing
of troops aboard allocated vessels.
Fourteen-day menus, listing a choice of entrees, with a tested recipe for
every dish, have been contributions of the Food Service Program to the Army
Ground Forces and Army Service Forces redistribution stations.
Surveys conducted in 1944 by the Food Service Branch disclosed that food
preferences of the Womenís Army Corps were different from those of men. As a
result of this investigation, and in keeping with the actual desires of the
women in uniform, their menus have
been modified. For instance, bacon
has been decreased 15%, veal 20%, eggs from 30 to 50%, bread 20%, and coffee
25%. At the same time, many fresh and canned fruits have been increased, such as
fruit cocktail 50%, pears 100%, and apples 50%.
One project which has received much favorable publicity has been the
rendering of fats. It has effected tremendous savings. Issues of shortening have
been reduced in most service commands. Many posts have issued no shortening to
messes for several months. Others have not only been self-sufficient in
providing their own shortening, but have rendered sufficient fats to meet the
requirements of their bakeries. A few posts are even shipping surplus rendered
fats to other stations.
Weekly drives featuring a particular phase of messing have been of great
assistance in improving food service. They have been given distribution on every
front, at home and overseas, through the medium of the Quartermaster Training
Service Journal. A few of the food service drives have been: the proper use of
leftovers, coffee brewing, attractive food service, preparation of fresh and
frozen vegetables, stock-room control, care of ranges, and the cooking of meats.
Each of these drives has a purpose. Each one concentrates upon a
particular problem. For example, the drive stressing use of a moderate
temperature in cooking meats indicated that a saving of at least $20,000,000 a
year was possible when meats were roasted at proper temperatures. Use of
moderate temperatures also makes meat more tender and tasty.
Coffee is important in the life of most American soldiers.
Special emphasis has been placed by the Food Service Branch on the proper
brewing of coffee. A manual giving instructions for the handling, storage, and
brewing of coffee has been prepared and distributed. Instruction charts have
been placed on all Army Service Forces urns so that even the greenest recruit
can make good coffee.
During the past year the Food Service Program was active in promoting
victory gardens at Army posts. The Seventh Service Command, alone, has reported
the value of the products raised in its garden as more than $93,000.
The Bakery Section is established for the purpose of controlling post
bakery operations through an adequate field service organization. It directs the
utilization of all bakery equipment and machinery, and passes on all
requisitions for new equipment. This is no small task when one considers the 152
garrison bakeries with a production capacity of over 2,000,000 pounds of bread
The Schools for Bakers and Cooks Section constantly reviews the training
doctrine and visual aids used for educational work. It aids in the preparation
of new courses of instruction which are required from time to time for special
purposes. The revision of such
documents as the Army Cook, the Army Baker, and other training manuals and
technical bulletins is another duty. At one time, in order to keep pace with our
fast-growing Army, there were nearly 100 schools strategically located
throughout the country.
The Refrigeration Section was recently established for the purpose of
formulating policies covering the technical control of the utilization of
refrigerator space and, at the same time, to develop and issue instructions
covering storage methods, layouts, and temperature requirements.
The Mess Equipment Section maintains close liaison with General Supplies
Branch, OQMG, and the Office of the Chief of Engineers in order to furnish
information concerning requests for equipment to be installed in central meat
cutting plants, central pastry bakeries, fat rendering plants, kitchens, and
mess halls. Periodic reports on available mess equipment are analyzed for
The Food Service Program to improve messing, conserve food, and eliminate waste will continue to operate to the end that GI Joe may remain the best fed soldier in the world. As the days and months go by it will be the continued duty of every officer connected with the mess to be constantly on the alert for ways and means of improving the food served our soldiers.
since 27 May 2001